Theater critic Iain Armitage has never given a bad review. Even the shows that aren’t his favorites, he says he tries to focus on the “happy things” in the show.
Most would scoff at a critic who has never given a bad review, but Iain has an excuse: he’s only 6 years old, and he’s been taught it’s not nice to say mean things by his parents, Broadway star Euan Morton and theater producer Lee Armitage.
Iain started reviewing shows on Armitage’s YouTube channel five months ago, reviewing 21 different shows include “Phantom of the Opera” and “Pippin” — his two favorites so far — and, most recently, the Signature Theatre production of “Sundays in the Park with George.” That review has more than 16,000 views and got Iain enough attention to be featured on MTV.com.
It all started when Iain saw Hairspray at Signature and started talking about it. Lee filmed him with her smartphone, and the rest is history.
“I really don’t know why it’s gotten so popular,” Armitage said. “With all the videos, we would have friends in the shows and they’d watch them because he said funny things. We also did it to keep up with what shows he’s seen.”
Iain is homeschooled at the family’s home near Virginia Square, and also likes ice skating, dancing (there’s a video of a dance recital on the YouTube channel) and playing piano. Although being an elementary school-aged theater critic is a rarity, he wishes it were more common.
“I wish there were more little critics like me,” he told ARLnow.com in Ballston this morning with his mother. “Then we could be friends and see the same shows and get famous together.”
Iain said some of his favorite shows are the ones he can watch his father — who was nominated for a Tony award in 2004 for his portrayal of Boy George in “Taboo” — because he likes “the feeling when my dad’s on the stage. If I wave to him after the show, he’ll always wave back to me.”
Armitage said the Signature Theater is a big part of why Iain developed a love for musicals — Signature Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer is Iain’s godfather — and Iain said he wished “more kids in Arlington could see shows.” Iain also wishes he could see more shows. He said he “would like to see every show ever made,” and has gotten frustrated when his parents kept him out of productions that are inappropriate for 6 year-olds, like “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” a show about an East German transgender singer.
Iain said he’s “still mad” about not being able to see the show, but is enjoying the spoils of being a viral video star. He smiled and said “I like it” when he was asked about the trappings of fame, but couldn’t confirm he was practicing his autographs for future fans.
Metro’s Silver Line is set to officially open on Saturday, with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and other notable officials on hand to watch the first train depart the Wiehle-Reston East station.
The launch of the Silver Line has economic ramifications for Arlington, though there’s some debate over whether those ramifications will be mostly good or mostly bad.
On the pessimistic side, rail transit in Reston and Tysons could enhance the desirability of those areas and present Arlington with stiff competition, especially in the commercial office market.
On the optimistic side, the fact that the Silver Line will run through Arlington on the way to D.C. could actually make the county’s Orange/Silver corridor even more desirable as an economic hub. The video above makes the case that Ballston in particular is well-positioned to benefit from the Silver Line.
Publicly and privately, officials with Arlington Economic Development say they expect Tysons to take many years to develop as a truly desirable urban area, with walkable and active streets and ample housing. Even then, they believe Arlington’s multi-decade head start on transit-oriented development, and its proximity to D.C., will give the county the competitive edge over Tysons.
The videos are part of the county’s renewed effort to justify the massive streetcar investment to the public. The controversial project — which includes streetcar tracks in Crystal City and along Columbia Pike — is supported by County Board members Jay Fisette, Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, but opposed by members Libby Garvey and John Vihstadt.
The four most recent videos include Tejada and housing advocate Holly Bray saying the streetcar will help preserve affordable housing on the Pike; planning commissioner Inta Malis saying the streetcar will reduce traffic congestion and benefit the environment; and real estate developer and former Arlington Chamber of Commerce Chair David DeCamp saying the streetcar will attract 6,600 new jobs and add $3-4 billion in new real estate value over 30 years.
Previous videos released by the county included the following titles: “Because more people will want to ride the streetcar;” “Because Metro was a success and streetcars will be, too;” “Because buses alone can’t carry enough people;” “Because streetcar improves connections;” and “Because it will broaden our tax base.”
The streetcar remains a source of controversy, with ardent advocates and detractors among local residents. The county plans to fund the streetcar system with federal, state and transportation-designated local funds, though Fisette recently asked county staff to come up with a way to pay for the streetcar without federal funding.
Are mom and dad heading out for dinner and leaving the kids at home?
The Arlington County Police Department has released a video with safety tips for children who are home alone. The tips include:
- Do not have friends over without an adult in the house to supervise.
- Keep your doors closed AND locked when you’re home alone.
- Do not open the door for anyone even if you know the person.
- Don’t answer the phone and never tell anyone you’re home alone.
- Make sure you have a trusted neighbor you can go to if you need help and a list of emergency phone numbers to call.
Those emergency numbers include 911 in an actual emergency, and the police non-emergency line (703-558-2222) for everything else, including reports of suspicious activity.
The Arlington County Board approved an updated noise ordinance last month, amid concern from businesses that it’s too strict and complaints from residents that it’s not strict enough.
A new video from Arlington County (above) reviews why the noise ordinance was updated and what it means for Arlington residents and businesses.
As noted in the video, noise complaints in Arlington should be directed to county code enforcement (703-228-3232) during business hours and to the police non-emergency line (703-558-2222) after hours.
The video shows the kittens nodding their heads in a synchronized “dance,” seemingly along with the beat of the hit song “Turn Down for What,” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon.
Daisy and Tulip are eight weeks old and are still available for adoption, according to AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent. The video, posted on May 29, has already accumulated more than 3 million views, but Trent said despite people calling with interest about the two kittens, the shelter has yet to receive any formal adoption applications.
Daisy and Tulip, sisters found abandoned when they were less than a week old and their eyes were still closed, are scheduled for surgery to get spayed on Thursday, but Trent said anyone can come in and visit this afternoon, Wednesday or after the surgery on Friday to see the two felines.
“We haven’t had anything that’s gotten this kind of reception,” Trent told ARLnow.com. “Occasionally we’ll post something on YouTube of a cat or a kitten. I think it may be stimulated a bit because the writer of the song is a rap guy named Lil Jon and he Facebooked about the video. Maybe that’s what helped it go out into the ether.”
Daisy, the tortoiseshell-colored kitten, and Tulip are two of about 25-30 kittens currently residing in AWLA’s new feline shelter, along with 45-50 cats, Trent said. There are also about 50 kittens in foster families, where they live until they’re about eight weeks old and are ready to be spayed.
Photo courtesy AWLA
Arlington CEO Pleads Guilty to Hacking — Ariel Friedler, the 36-year-old CEO of Arlington-based Symplicity Corporation, has pleaded guilty to federal computer hacking charges. Prosecutors say Friedler and his Chief Technology Officer gained access to the customer section of two competitors’ websites using hacked user credentials in order to steal customer and product design information and gain “an unfair business advantage.” [Pacific Standard, USDOJ]
Wizards Player Helping Clarendon Ice Cream Shop — Washington Wizards swingman Martell Webster tweeted last week that he is working part time at Nicecream Factory, the new Clarendon ice cream store. It turns out that Webster is merely helping out with the store’s marketing effort, which is being led by a long-time friend and former collegiate basketball player. [Washington Post]
Arlington Losing Its Urban Village Advantage? — Arlington is known as a leader in transit-oriented development, thanks to its walkable, mixed-use urban villages. But Arlington’s Mobility Lab suggests that Arlington may be losing its advantage. Tysons Corner, Bethesda, Silver Spring, White Flint, NoMa, and the Ballpark District are all “now competing on the Arlington model,” one county official said. [Mobility Lab]
YHS Senior Video — A group of Yorktown High School seniors recorded a song and created a music video in advance of their impending graduation. [Vimeo]
Wakefield Student Get Sheriff’s Scholarship — A Wakefield High School student has received a $1,000 scholarship from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office. Kiana Carter, a graduating senior, plans to study criminal justice. [Arlington County]
Fox 5 has obtained the recording of the ex-Marine’s chilling confession, in which he expresses no remorse for killing two little girls and 20-year-old Navy Petty Officer Amanda Jean Snell.
A judge is scheduled to determine Torrez’s fate — whether to accept a jury’s death sentence recommendation — at a hearing on May 30.
Free People to Open Next Week — The “bohemian” women’s clothing store Free People will open next Friday (May 16) at the Pentagon City mall. The 3,200 square foot boutique is the company’s 94th retail store and the fourth in the D.C. area. [PRWeb]
Bike and Walk to School Day — Today is Bike and Walk to School Day for Arlington Public Schools. Children and parents were encouraged to seek people-powered transportation to school to teach students “about the health and environmental benefits of biking and walking.” [Arlington Public Schools]
Make-A-Wish Star’s Video Released – Addy, the 5-year-old who shot part of a music video in Rosslyn after her wish to become a pop star was granted by Make-A-Wish, has had her video released on YouTube. The video is a cover of the Katy Perry song “Roar.” Addy is suffering from a Wilms Tumor, a form of kidney cancer. [YouTube]
Entrepreneurial Author to Speak at Library – U.S. News & World Report senior money editor Kimberly Palmer will discuss her book “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life” tonight at 7:00 at Arlington Central Library. [Arlington Public Library]
Flickr pool photo by Brian Allen
Vihstadt Backs Off Independent Auditor Push — Newly-elected County Board member John Vihstadt is backing off a campaign promise to push for an independent auditor for Arlington County. Vihstadt “learned of the internal auditing that the county does and its plans to make that role more robust.” He plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the county’s auditing project around mid-year. [Washington Post]
Howze Won Pike Precincts — Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze, who lost to John Vihstadt in the April 8 special election, narrowly won the precincts around Columbia Pike. Opponents of the planned Columbia Pike streetcar say the slim victory — Howze supports the streetcar while Vihstadt does not — is proof that even Columbia Pike residents who stand to benefit from the streetcar are lukewarm on the project. [InsideNoVa]
A Weekend in Courthouse in 2.5 Minutes — Timelapse photography of Arlington’s Courthouse Square area shows 2.5 days in just 2.5 minutes. The video includes a view of the Courthouse farmers market from setup to break down. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber
Arlington Public School has created a video as part of its effort to recruit new teachers to the burgeoning school system.
To keep up with rising student enrollment and teacher attrition — retirements, etc. — APS hired about 300 new teachers in 2012 and more than 400 new teachers in 2013. School enrollment is projected to increase from 23,316 to 24,153 in the coming school year. Superintendent Patrick Murphy’s new proposed budget calls for 53 new K-12 teacher positions — in addition to new teacher hires to replace those retiring or leaving for other school systems.
To help promote its careers web page, APS created a PSA video (above) with the tag line “Inspire Generation.”
Former Virginia Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, one of the nearly dozen Democrats running for the congressional seat of Rep. Jim Moran (D), will be holding a campaign kickoff event this weekend.
In advance of the event, Beyer’s campaign released a music video — a campaign song based on the Anna Kendrick hit “Cups.” Performed in the video by middle schoolers Mae and John Keating, the children of friends of the Beyer family, the “Blue Cup Song” will also be performed live at Beyer’s kickoff event.
The event is being held at Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. It will launch a procession of 100 campaign events Beyer is scheduled to hold between now and the June 10 Democratic primary.
Beyer served as Lieutenant Governor from 1990-1998, served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from 2009-2013, and is the co-owner of the eponymous Beyer car dealership chain.
Arlington County police are looking for three suspects in an early morning brawl at the DoubleTree hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) Sunday.
“Surveillance video captured the suspects in the lobby area at approximately 3:16 a.m. as they taunt two couples as they entered the hotel,” according to police. “Following the comments, the three suspects charge after the victims and a physical altercation ensues, leaving one of the victim’s unconscious on the floor. The suspects flee the scene after hotel security arrive and are again captured on surveillance video exiting the front door.”
The victim was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police are asking anyone who might recognize the suspects to contact investigators.
“If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of these individuals, please contact Detective Paula Brockenborough of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703.228.4241 or at email@example.com,” said a police press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”
According to a new county-produced video (above), Arlington has 500 miles of water mains, 60 percent of which are 55 years or older. The oldest water main in the county dates back to 1927. Such water mains are vulnerable to rapid temperature changes.
“In the winter months, with extreme temperature fluctuations, breaks and leaks are common,” the video narrator says. “Crew members are prepared to work in all weather conditions, day or night, to return water mains to service as soon as possible.”
Arlington water officials monitor water pressure changes that could be a sign of a water main break. But the county also relies on reports from citizens.
To report a water main break, residents can call Arlington’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 703-228-6555.
The Arlington County Police Department released a 14-second clip of the alleged Hall’s Hill tire slasher this afternoon.
The video was reportedly shot on Dec. 7, when 40 cars had their tires slashed in the neighborhood between 12:30 and 7:00 a.m. It was the second tire slashing spree within a month in the neighborhood after 36 cars were found with slashed tires on Nov. 18.
The suspect “has a unique walk” according to the ACPD Twitter account. Police are asking anyone who recognizes the slashers to come forward and assist with the investigation. The police department’s non-emergency number is 703-558-2222.
In the above video, the suspect can be seen approaching an SUV parked in a residential driveway, appearing to stick a sharp object in a tire and walking down the street in a matter of seconds.
Video courtesy of ACPD